The temptation of Jesus during the 40-days in the dessert is reminiscent to the temptation in the Garden of Eden with one difference, Jesus does not give in to Satin. The passage Mk 1:12-15 is from the beginning of His public ministry. Christ’s 40-days of temptation in the desert also are given emphasis with the 40-days of Lent. The 40-days of Lent also give reminder to the 40-years the Hebrews spent in the desert journeying towards the promised land. Lent then is a journey. Jesus’s mission is to bring us back to that garden; “the Kingdom of God is at Hand.” The little snippet of gospel serves to remind us of that mission. It also is reminder of who we are, and that is sinners. We are the ones that do stumble on our journey. We are human. The second reading from Peter’s letter 1 Pt 3:18-22 also sums up Christ’s mission; “Beloved: Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God.”
The readings of today focus on two aspects of Christ’s mission, death and resurrection. The first reading is about Noah, also death through the flood, and rebirth after they subsided. With that rebirth comes a new covenant, the covenant where God says He will never again use the destruction of water against man.Gn 9:8-15 Those waters are the waters of Jesus baptism where he takes upon our sins to lead us to new life. They are the waters too of our baptism where we die to sin and rise in a life with Christ. Death and Life. Death on a cross, and the Easter that follows. Baptism is where our journey with Jesus begins.
There is a reason for the Lenten journey, and there is reason for its fasts, and acts of penance, almsgiving, and prayer. They serve to guide us through the desert. They are the tools of Lent. They aid us so that we emerge from the season different from the way we entered. We enter (hopefully) confessing our sins, and admitting our frailties, so that when we emerge it is in the light of Christ. It is important to focus on the reason for this walk through Lent, so that we don’t wander through the season aimlessly. It is a season that reminds us of the darkness in life and asks us to face our demon, that which tempts us, so that at Easter we might begin life anew.
What the season should do for our soul is so perfectly illustrated through the nature of the northern woods. The season of Lent begins bitter cold and dark. At the beginning of that season one wonders if it will ever get above freezing, yet one also has faith and full knowledge that life, and warmth, and light, and growth will eventually come. We struggle through the harshness, and that promise does indeed come.Might one be reminded of the spring growth that comes after a cold winter. Spiritual growth is one of the fruits of a well practiced Lent.
Lent’s has just begun, its beginning was marked with ashes, and hopefully with a commitment from those who received them. There is work this season that needs to be done and much of it is difficult. It requires a reminder, because many of the chores of Lent most people would rather put aside for another day. An honest examination of conscience is much more difficult that denial or ignorance, but if done honestly confession brings about rewards. The season reminds us to focus on all that keeps us from Christ in our lives. It is not simply a memorial of history. The readings of today do remind us on one hand of the reason of Christ’s Passion, but they are also a reminder that this is a season of active participation. They are also a much needed reminder of the reward to come. It is a tough journey, but one with the greatest of rewards for those who put in the effort and endure .